Popsicles and ice tea works great for us human beings, but that super thin and light Macbook Air your plugging away at doesn't have the luxury of a icy refreshing beverage to cool it off (and you don't want to try pouring ice tea on your laptop).
Computers produce a lot of heat on their own. If you have a unibody MacBook you'll notice how the aluminum heats up when your doing system intensive tasks like watching HD video or running a lot of applications at once. Generally a heavy processor load prompts the computer's internal fan to whirl away a bit faster (you've likely noticed the additional noise coming from your otherwise quiet computer).
The computer's fan will work as hard as needed to try and cool the computer down, but when the air around the computer is hot it becomes more and more difficult for the computer to dissipate that additional heat. This usually results in a noticeable dip in performance and over time it can damage the computers internals or wear out the fan.
Big servers and data centres rely on meticulously climate controlled rooms to keep their computers running efficiently, but since we already established you might not even have air conditioning in your home there are still a few simple things you can do to ensure your laptop stays cools and runs smoothly this summer.
1) Laptop cooling pad
Available at pretty much any retailer that sells laptops, a USB powered cooling pad gives your laptop additional fans and a raised surface to sit on allowing better airflow underneath to dissipate the heat. I use a triple fan cooling pad with my 13" MacBook Air pretty much whenever I hear the computers internal fan. This might be due to the heat in the room or just a particularly taxing task. It's important to learn the sounds your computer makes, learning to recognize your fan noise can tell you a lot about the health of your computer.
2) Keep your laptop in the shade
Although it seems obvious it's important to remember to keep your laptop out of the sun. Laptops are convenient because you can just pick them up and get to work anywhere, but that means we don't always put them away when were done with them. When I'm not using my MacBook Air I always try to dock it somewhere safe and away from a window to make sure I haven't left it baking in the sun all day. You'll also want to avoid leaving you laptop in your car this summer. Cars sitting in the sun all day can get really hot inside so if you have to leave your laptop in the car, give it some time to cool down before getting right to work.
3) Keep your laptop, out of your lap
It's a bit ironic but generally you want to keep your laptop out of your lap, and off of any fabric covered surface. Your laptop likely has small feet or risers on the bottom which are there to provide space between the laptop and the surface it's placed on. This allows space for air to pass under the laptop, helping cool the laptop by drawing away from the processor. Placing your laptop on a surface that doesn't allow that space can cause your computer to heat up. Now you have an overheating computer in your lap, which for obvious reason is also not comfortable.
4) Work from somewhere that has AC
When my apartment gets too hot for my laptop, it's also usually too hot for me as well. Instead of baking away in a stifling apartment treat both yourself and your laptop to the climate controlled bliss of a nearby cafe. You can even get yourself an delicious iced latte to beat the heat, all the while protecting you computer from damaged and overheating.
(Images: Sean Rioux)